20+ Best John Dryden Poems

John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made England’s first Poet Laureate in 1668. He is seen as dominating the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.

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Famous John Dryden Poems

Tarquin And Tullia

In times when princes cancelled nature’s law,
And declarations which themselves did draw;
When children used their parents to dethrone,
And gnaw their way, like vipers, to the crown;
Tarquin, a savage, proud, ambitious prince,
Prompt to expel, yet thoughtless of defence,
The envied sceptre did from Tullius snatch,
The Roman king, and father by the match.
To form his party, histories report,
A sanctuary was opened in his court,
Where glad offenders safely might resort.
Great was the crowd, and wonderous the success,
For those were fruitful times of wickedness;
And all that lived obnoxious to the laws,
Flocked to prince Tarquin, and embraced his cause.
‘Mongst these a pagan priest for refuge fled;
A prophet deep in godly faction read;
A sycophant, that knew the modish way
To cant and plot, to flatter and betray,
To whine and sin, to scribble and recant,
A shameless author, and a lustful saint.
To serve all times he could distinctions coin
And with great ease flat contradictions join
A traitor now, once loyal in extreme,
And then obedience was his only theme:
He sung in temples the most passive lays
And wearied monarchs with repeated praise
But managed awkwardly that lawful part,
To vent foul lies and treason was his art,
And pointed libels at crowned heads to dart.
This priest, and others, learned to defame,
First murder injured Tullius in his name;
With blackest calumnies their sovereign load,
A poisoned brother, and dark league abroad;
A son unjustly top’d upon the throne,
Which yet was proved undoubtedly his own;
Though, as the law was then, ’twas his behoof,
Who dispossessed the heir, to bring the proof.
This hellish charge they backed with dismal frights,
The loss of property, and sacred rights,
And freedom; words which all false patriots use
As surest names the Romans to abuse;
Jealous of kings, and always malcontent,
Forward in change, yet certain to repent.
Whilst thus the plotters needful fears create,
Tarquin with open force invades the state.
Lewd nobles join him with their feeble might,
And atheist fools for dear religion fight.
The priests their boasted principles disown,
And level their harangues against the throne.
Vain promises the people’s minds allure:
Slight were these ills, but desperate the cure.
‘Tis hard for kings to steer an equal course,
And they who banish one oft gain a worse.
Those heavenly bodies we admire above,
Do every day irregularly move;
Yet Tullius, ’tis decreed, must lose the crown,
For faults that were his council’s, not his own.
He now in vain commands even those he payed,
By darling troops deserted and betrayed,
By creatures which his generous warmth had made.
Of these a captain of the guards was worst,
Whose memory to this day stands accurst.
This rogue, advanced to military trust
By his own whoredom, and his sister’s lust,
Forsook his master, after dreadful vows,
And plotted to betray him to his foes;
The kindest master to the vilest slave,
As free to give, as he was sure to crave.
His haughty female, who, as books declare,
Did always toss wide nostrils in the air,
Was to the younger Tullia governess,
And did attend her, when, in borrowed dress,
She fled by night from Tullius in distress.
This wretch, by letters, did invite his foes,
And used all arts her father to depose;
A father, always generously bent,
So kind, that even her wishes he’d prevent.
‘Twas now high time for Tullius to retreat,
When even his daughter hastened his defeat;
When faith and duty vanished, and no more
The name of father and of king he bore:
A king, whose right his foes could ne’er dispute;
So mild, that mercy was his attribute;
Affable, kind, and easy of access;
Swift to relieve, unwilling to oppress;
Rich without taxes, yet in payment just;
So honest, that he hardly could distrust:
His active soul from labours ne’er did cease,
Valiant in war, and vigilant in peace;
Studious with traffic to enrich the land,
Strong to protect, and skilful to command;
Liberal and splendid, yet without excess;
Prone to relieve, unwilling to distress:
In sum, how godlike must his nature be,
Whose only fault was too much piety!
This king removed, the assembled states thought fit,
That Tarquin in the vacant throne should sit;
Voted him regent in their senate-house,
And with an empty name endowed his spouse.
The elder Tullia, who, some authors feign,
Drove o’er her father’s corse a rumbling wain:
But she, more guilty, numerous wains did drive,
To crush her father and her king alive;
And in remembrance of his hastened fall,
Resolved to institute a weekly ball.
The jolly glutton grew in bulk and chin,
Feasted on rapine, and enjoyed her sin;
With luxury she did weak reason force,
Debauched good-nature, and cram’d down remorse;
Yet when she drank cold tea in liberal sups,
The sobbing dame was maudling in her cups.
But brutal Tarquin never did relent,
Too hard to melt, too wicked to repent;
Cruel in deeds, more merciless in will,
And blest with natural delight in ill.
From a wise guardian he received his doom
To walk the change, and not to govern Rome.
He swore his native honours to disown,
And did by perjury ascend the throne.
Oh! had that oath his swelling pride represt,
Rome had been then with peace and plenty blest.
But Tarquin, guided by destructive fate,
The country wasted, and embroiled the state,
Transported to their foes the Roman pelf,
And by their ruin hoped to save himself.
Innumerable woes oppress the land,
When it submitted to his curs’d command.
So just was Heaven, that ’twas hard to tell,
Whether its guilt or losses did excel.
Men that renounced their God for dearer trade,
Were then the guardians of religion made.
Rebels were sainted, foreigners did reign,
Outlaws returned, preferment to obtain,
With frogs, and toads, and all their croaking train.
No native knew their features nor their birth;
They seemed the greasy offspring of the earth.
The trade was sunk, the fleet and army spent;
Devouring taxes swallowed lesser rent;
Taxes imposed by no authority;
Each lewd collection was a robbery.
Bold self-creating men did statutes draw,
Skilled to establish villainy by law;
Fanatic drivers, whose unjust careers.
Produced new ills exceeding former fears:
Yet authors here except a faithful band,
Which the prevailing faction did withstand;
And some, who bravely stood in the defence
Of baffled justice, and their exiled prince.
These shine to after-times; each sacred name
Stands still recorded in the rolls of fame.

Te Deum

Thee, Sovereign God, our grateful accents praise;
We own thee Lord, and bless thy wondrous ways;
To thee, Eternal Father, earth’s whole frame
With loudest trumpets sounds immortal fame.
Lord God of Hosts! for thee the heavenly powers,
With sounding anthems, fill the vaulted towers.
Thy Cherubims thee Holy, Holy, Holy, cry;
Thrice Holy, all the Seraphims reply,
And thrice returning echoes endless songs supply.
Both heaven and earth thy majesty display;
They owe their beauty to thy glorious ray.
Thy praises fill the loud apostles’ quire:
The train of prophets in the song conspire.
Legions of martyrs in the chorus shine,
And vocal blood with vocal music join.[24]
By these thy church, inspired by heavenly art,
Around the world maintains a second part,
And tunes her sweetest notes, O God, to thee,
The Father of unbounded majesty;
The Son, adored co-partner of thy seat,
And equal everlasting Paraclete.
Thou King of Glory, Christ, of the Most High,
Thou co-eternal filial Deity;
Thou who, to save the world’s impending doom,
Vouchsafst to dwell within a virgin’s womb;
Old tyrant Death disarmed, before thee flew
The bolts of heaven, and back the foldings drew,
To give access, and make thy faithful way;
From God’s right hand thy filial beams display.
Thou art to judge the living and the dead;
Then spare those souls for whom thy veins have bled.
O take us up amongst thy bless’d above,
To share with them thy everlasting love.
Preserve, O Lord! thy people, and enhance
Thy blessing on thine own inheritance.
For ever raise their hearts, and rule their ways,
Each day we bless thee, and proclaim thy praise;
No age shall fail to celebrate thy name,
No hour neglect thy everlasting fame.
Preserve our souls, O Lord, this day from ill;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy still:
As we have hoped, do thou reward our pain;
We’ve hoped in thee–let not our hope be vain.

To Mr. Granville, On His Excellent Tragedy, Called Heroic Love

Auspicious poet, wert thou not my friend,
How could I envy, what I must commend!
But since ’tis nature’s law, in love and wit,
That youth should reign, and withering age submit,
With less regret those laurels I resign,
Which, dying on my brows, revive on thine.
With better grace an ancient chief may yield
The long contended honours of the field,
Than venture all his fortune at a cast,
And fight, like Hannibal, to lose at last.
Young princes, obstinate to win the prize,
Though yearly beaten, yearly yet they rise:
Old monarchs, though successful, still in doubt,
Catch at a peace, and wisely turn devout.
Thine be the laurel, then; thy blooming age
Can best, if any can, support the stage;
Which so declines, that shortly we may see
Players and plays reduced to second infancy:
Sharp to the world, but thoughtless of renown,
They plot not on the stage, but on the town,
And, in despair their empty pit to fill,
Set up some foreign monster in a bill.
Thus they jog on, still tricking, never thriving,
And murdering plays, which they miscall reviving.
Our sense is nonsense, through their pipes conveyed;
Scarce can a poet know the play he made,
‘Tis so disguised in death; nor thinks ’tis he
That suffers in the mangled tragedy.
Thus Itys first was killed, and after dressed
For his own sire, the chief invited guest.
I say not this of thy successful scenes,
Where thine was all the glory, theirs the gains.
With length of time, much judgment, and more toil,
Not ill they acted what they could not spoil.
Their setting sun still shoots a glimmering ray,
Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay;
And better gleanings their worn soil can boast,
Than the crab-vintage of the neighbouring coast.
This difference yet the judging world will see;
Thou copiest Homer, and they copy thee.

Prologue To His Royal Highness, Upon His First Appearance At The Duke’s Theatre After His Return From Scotland.

In those cold regions which no summers cheer,
Where brooding darkness covers half the year,
To hollow caves the shivering natives go,
Bears range abroad, and hunt in tracks of snow.
But when the tedious twilight wears away,
And stars grow paler at the approach of day,
The longing crowds to frozen mountains run,
Happy who first can see the glimmering sun;
The surly savage offspring disappear,
And curse the bright successor of the year.
Yet, though rough bears in covert seek defence,
White foxes stay, with seeming innocence;
That crafty kind with daylight can dispense.
Still we are thronged so full with Reynard’s race,
That loyal subjects scarce can find a place;
Thus modest truth is cast behind the crowd,
Truth speaks too low, hypocrisy too loud.
Let them be first to flatter in success;
Duty can stay, but guilt has need to press.
Once, when true zeal the sons of God did call,
To make their solemn show at heaven’s White-hall,
The fawning Devil appeared among the rest,
And made as good a courtier as the best.
The friends of Job, who railed at him before,
Came cap in hand when he had three times more.
Yet late repentance may, perhaps, be true;
Kings can forgive, if rebels can but sue:
A tyrant’s power in rigour is exprest;
The father yearns in the true prince’s breast.
We grant, an o’ergrown Whig no grace can mend,
But most are babes, that know not they offend;
The crowd, to restless motion still inclined,
Are clouds, that rack according to the wind.
Driven by their chiefs, they storms of hailstones pour,
Then mourn, and soften to a silent shower.
O welcome to this much-offending land,
The prince that brings forgiveness in his hand!
Thus angels on glad messages appear,
Their first salute commands us not to fear;
Thus heaven, that could constrain us to obey,
(With reverence if we might presume to say),
Seems to relax the rights of sovereign sway;
Permits to man the choice of good and ill,
And makes us happy by our own free-will.

To My Honoured Kinsman John Driden, Of Chesterton, In The County Of Huntingdon, Esq.

How blessed is he, who leads a country life,
Unvexed with anxious cares, and void of strife!
Who, studying peace, and shunning civil rage,
Enjoyed his youth, and now enjoys his age:
All who deserve his love, he makes his own;
And, to be loved himself, needs only to be known.
Just, good, and wise, contending neighbours come,
From your award to wait their final doom;
And, foes before, return in friendship home.
Without their cost, you terminate the cause,
And save the expence of long litigious laws;
Where suits are traversed, and so little won,
That he who conquers is but last undone:
Such are not your decrees; but so designed,
The sanction leaves a lasting peace behind;
Like your own soul, serene, a pattern of your mind.
Promoting concord, and composing strife,
Lord of yourself, uncumbered with a wife;
Where, for a year, a month, perhaps a night,
Long penitence succeeds a short delight:
Minds are so hardly matched, that even the first,
Though paired by heaven, in Paradise were cursed.
For man and woman, though in one they grow,
Yet, first or last, return again to two.
He to God’s image, she to his was made;
So, farther from the fount the stream at random strayed.
How could he stand, when, put to double pain,
He must a weaker than himself sustain!
Each might have stood perhaps, but each alone;
Two wrestlers help to pull each other down.
Not that my verse would blemish all the fair;
But yet if some be bad, ’tis wisdom to beware,
And better shun the bait, than struggle in the snare.
Thus have you shunned, and shun the married state,
Trusting as little as you can to fate.
No porter guards the passage of your door,
To admit the wealthy, and exclude the poor;
For God, who gave the riches, gave the heart,
To sanctify the whole, by giving part;
Heaven, who foresaw the will, the means has wrought,
And to the second son a blessing brought;
The first-begotten had his father’s share;
But you, like Jacob, are Rebecca’s heir.
So may your stores and fruitful fields increase;
And ever be you blessed, who live to bless.
As Ceres sowed, where-e’er her chariot flew;
As heaven in deserts rained the bread of dew;
So free to many, to relations most,
You feed with manna your own Israel host.
With crowds attended of your ancient race,
You seek the champaign sports, or sylvan chace;
With well-breathed beagles you surround the wood,
Even then industrious of the common good;
And often have you brought the wily fox
To suffer for the firstlings of the flocks;
Chased even amid the folds, and made to bleed,
Like felons, where they did the murderous deed.
This fiery game your active youth maintained;
Not yet by years extinguished, though restrained:
You season still with sports your serious hours;
For age but tastes of pleasures, youth devours.
The hare in pastures or in plains is found,
Emblem of human life; who runs the round,
And, after all his wandering ways are done,
His circle fills, and ends where he begun,
Just as the setting meets the rising sun.
Thus princes ease their cares; but happier he,
Who seeks not pleasure through necessity,
Than such as once on slippery thrones were placed,
And chasing, sigh to think themselves are chased.
So lived our sires, ere doctors learned to kill,
And multiplied with theirs the weekly bill.
The first physicians by debauch were made;
Excess began, and sloth sustains the trade.
Pity the generous kind their cares bestow
To search forbidden truths, (a sin to know,)
To which if human science could attain,
The doom of death, pronounced by God, were vain.
In vain the leech would interpose delay;
Fate fastens first, and vindicates the prey.
What help from art’s endeavours can we have?
Guibbons but guesses, nor is sure to save;
But Maurus sweeps whole parishes, and peoples every grave;
And no more mercy to mankind will use,
Than when he robbed and murdered Maro’s muse.
Would’st thou be soon dispatched, and perish whole,
Trust Maurus with thy life, and Milbourne with thy soul.
By chase our long-lived fathers earned their food;
Toil strung the nerves, and purified the blood:
But we their sons, a pampered race of men,
Are dwindled down to threescore years and ten.
Better to hunt in fields, for health unbought,
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught.
The wise, for cure, on exercise depend;
God never made his work for man to mend.
The tree of knowledge, once in Eden placed,
Was easy found, but was forbid the taste:
O had our grandsire walked without his wife,
He first had sought the better plant of life!
Now both are lost: yet, wandering in the dark,
Physicians, for the tree, have found the bark;
They, labouring for relief of human kind,
With sharpened sight some remedies may find;
The apothecary-train is wholly blind.
From files a random recipe they take,
And many deaths of one prescription make.
Garth, generous as his muse, prescribes and gives;
The shopman sells, and by destruction lives:
Ungrateful tribe! who, like the viper’s brood,
From Med’cine issuing, suck their mother’s blood!
Let these obey, and let the learned prescribe,
That men may die without a double bribe;
Let them, but under their superiors, kill,
When doctors first have signed the bloody bill;
He ‘scapes the best, who, nature to repair,
Draws physic from the fields, in draughts of vital air.
You hoard not health for your own private use,
But on the public spend the rich produce.
When, often urged, unwilling to be great,
Your country calls you from your loved retreat,
And sends to senates, charged with common care,
Which none more shuns, and none can better bear:
Where could they find another formed so fit,
To poise, with solid sense, a sprightly wit?
Were these both wanting, as they both abound,
Where could so firm integrity be found?
Well born, and wealthy, wanting no support,
You steer betwixt the country and the court;
Nor gratify whate’er the great desire,
Nor grudging give, what public needs require.
Part must be left, a fund when foes invade,
And part employed to roll the watery trade:
Even Canaan’s happy land, when worn with toil,
Required a sabbath-year to mend the meagre soil.
Good senators (and such are you) so give,
That kings may be supplied, the people thrive:
And he, when want requires, is truly wise,
Who slights not foreign aids, nor overbuys,
But on our native strength, in time of need, relies.
Munster was bought, we boast not the success;
Who fights for gain, for greater makes his peace.
Our foes, compelled by need, have peace embraced;
The peace both parties want, is like to last;
Which if secure, securely we may trade;
Or, not secure, should never have been made.
Safe in ourselves, while on ourselves we stand,
The sea is ours, and that defends the land.
Be, then, the naval stores the nation’s care,
New ships to build, and battered to repair.
Observe the war, in every annual course;
What has been done, was done with British force:
Namur subdued, is England’s palm alone;
The rest besieged, but we constrained the town:
We saw the event that followed our success;
France, though pretending arms, pursued the peace,
Obliged, by one sole treaty, to restore
What twenty years of war had won before.
Enough for Europe has our Albion fought;
Let us enjoy the peace our blood has bought.
When once the Persian king was put to flight,
The weary Macedons refused to fight;
Themselves their own mortality confessed,
And left the son of Jove to quarrel for the rest.
Even victors are by victories undone;
Thus Hannibal, with foreign laurels won,
To Carthage was recalled, too late to keep his own.
While sore of battle, while our wounds are green,
Why should we tempt the doubtful die again?
In wars renewed, uncertain of success;
Sure of a share, as umpires of the peace.
A patriot both the king and country serves;
Prerogative and privilege preserves:
Of each our laws the certain limit show;
One must not ebb, nor t’other overflow:
Betwixt the prince and parliament we stand,
The barriers of the state on either hand;
May neither overflow, for then they drown the land.
When both are full, they feed our blessed abode;
Like those that watered once the Paradise of God.
Some overpoise of sway, by turns, they share;
In peace the people, and the prince in war;
Consuls of moderate power in calms were made;
When the Gauls came, one sole dictator swayed.
Patriots, in peace, assert the people’s right,
With noble stubbornness resisting might;
No lawless mandates from the court receive,
Nor lend by force, but in a body give.
Such was your generous grandsire; free to grant
In parliaments, that weighed their prince’s want:
But so tenacious of the common cause,
As not to lend the king against his laws;
And, in a loathsome dungeon doomed to lie,
In bonds retained his birthright liberty,
And shamed oppression, till it set him free.
O true descendant of a patriot line,
Who, while thou shar’st their lustre, lend’st them thine,
Vouchsafe this picture of thy soul to see;
‘Tis so far good, as it resembles thee;
The beauties to the original I owe,
Which when I miss, my own defects I show
Nor think the kindred Muses thy disgrace;
A poet is not born in every race.
Two of a house few ages can afford,
One to perform, another to record.
Praiseworthy actions are by thee embraced,
And ’tis my praise to make thy praises last.
For even when death dissolves our human frame,
The soul returns to heaven from whence it came;
Earth keeps the body, verse preserves the fame.

To His Sacred Majesty. A Panegyric On His Coronation

In that wild deluge where the world was drown’d,
When life and sin one common tomb had found,
The first small prospect of a rising hill
With various notes of joy the ark did fill:
Yet when that flood in its own depths was drown’d,
It left behind it false and slippery ground;
And the more solemn pomp was still deferr’d,
Till new-born nature in fresh looks appear’d.
Thus, Royal Sir, to see you landed here,
Was cause enough of triumph for a year:
Nor would your care those glorious joys repeat,
Till they at once might be secure and great:
Till your kind beams, by their continued stay,
Had warm’d the ground, and call’d the damps away,
Such vapours, while your powerful influence dries,
Then soonest vanish when they highest rise.
Had greater haste these sacred rites prepared,
Some guilty months had in your triumphs shared:
But this untainted year is all your own;
Your glories may without our crimes be shown.
We had not yet exhausted all our store,
When you refresh’d our joys by adding more:
As Heaven, of old, dispensed celestial dew,
You gave us manna, and still give us new.

Now our sad ruins are removed from sight,
The season too comes fraught with new delight:
Time seems not now beneath his years to stoop,
Nor do his wings with sickly feathers droop:
Soft western winds waft o’er the gaudy spring,
And open’d scenes of flowers and blossoms bring,
To grace this happy day, while you appear,
Not king of us alone, but of the year.
All eyes you draw, and with the eyes the heart:
Of your own pomp, yourself the greatest part:
Loud shouts the nation’s happiness proclaim,
And Heaven this day is feasted with your name.
Your cavalcade the fair spectators view,
From their high standings, yet look up to you.
From your brave train each singles out a prey,
And longs to date a conquest from your day.
Now charged with blessings while you seek repose,
Officious slumbers haste your eyes to close;
And glorious dreams stand ready to restore
The pleasing shapes of all you saw before.
Next to the sacred temple you are led,
Where waits a crown for your more sacred head:
How justly from the church that crown is due,
Preserved from ruin, and restored by you!
The grateful choir their harmony employ,
Not to make greater, but more solemn joy.
Wrapt soft and warm your name is sent on high,
As flames do on the wings of incense fly:
Music herself is lost; in vain she brings
Her choicest notes to praise the best of kings:
Her melting strains in you a tomb have found,
And lie like bees in their own sweetness drown’d.
He that brought peace, all discord could atone,
His name is music of itself alone.
Now while the sacred oil anoints your head,
And fragrant scents, begun from you, are spread
Through the large dome; the people’s joyful sound,
Sent back, is still preserved in hallow’d ground;
Which in one blessing mix’d descends on you;
As heighten’d spirits fall in richer dew.
Not that our wishes do increase your store,
Full of yourself, you can admit no more:
We add not to your glory, but employ
Our time, like angels, in expressing joy.
Nor is it duty, or our hopes alone,
Create that joy, but full fruition:
We know those blessings, which we must possess,
And judge of future by past happiness.
No promise can oblige a prince so much
Still to be good, as long to have been such.
A noble emulation heats your breast,
And your own fame now robs you of your rest.
Good actions still must be maintain’d with good,
As bodies nourish’d with resembling food.

You have already quench’d sedition’s brand;
And zeal, which burnt it, only warms the land.
The jealous sects, that dare not trust their cause
So far from their own will as to the laws,
You for their umpire and their synod take,
And their appeal alone to Caesar make.
Kind Heaven so rare a temper did provide,
That guilt, repenting, might in it confide.
Among our crimes oblivion may be set;
But ’tis our king’s perfection to forget.
Virtues unknown to these rough northern climes
From milder heavens you bring, without their crimes.
Your calmness does no after-storms provide,
Nor seeming patience mortal anger hide.
When empire first from families did spring,
Then every father govern’d as a king:
But you, that are a sovereign prince, allay
Imperial power with your paternal sway.
From those great cares when ease your soul unbends,
Your pleasures are design’d to noble ends:
Born to command the mistress of the seas,
Your thoughts themselves in that blue empire please.
Hither in summer evenings you repair
To taste the fraicheur of the purer air:
Undaunted here you ride, when winter raves,
With Caesar’s heart that rose above the waves.
More I could sing, but fear my numbers stays;
No loyal subject dares that courage praise.
In stately frigates most delight you find,
Where well-drawn battles fire your martial mind.
What to your cares we owe, is learnt from hence,
When even your pleasures serve for our defence.
Beyond your court flows in th’ admitted tide,
Where in new depths the wondering fishes glide:
Here in a royal bed[30] the waters sleep;
When tired at sea, within this bay they creep.
Here the mistrustful fowl no harm suspects,
So safe are all things which our king protects.
From your loved Thames a blessing yet is due,
Second alone to that it brought in you;
A queen, near whose chaste womb, ordain’d by fate,
The souls of kings unborn for bodies wait.
It was your love before made discord cease:
Your love is destined to your country’s peace.
Both Indies, rivals in your bed, provide
With gold or jewels to adorn your bride.
This to a mighty king presents rich ore,
While that with incense does a god implore.
Two kingdoms wait your doom, and, as you choose,
This must receive a crown, or that must lose.
Thus from your royal oak, like Jove’s of old,
Are answers sought, and destinies foretold:
Propitious oracles are begg’d with vows,
And crowns that grow upon the sacred boughs.
Your subjects, while you weigh the nation’s fate,
Suspend to both their doubtful love or hate:
Choose only, Sir, that so they may possess,
With their own peace their children’s happiness.

Upon The Death Of Lord Hastings

Must noble Hastings immaturely die,
The honour of his ancient family,
Beauty and learning thus together meet,
To bring a winding for a wedding sheet?
Must virtue prove death’s harbinger? must she,
With him expiring, feel mortality?
Is death, sin’s wages, grace’s now? shall art
Make us more learned, only to depart?
If merit be disease; if virtue, death;
To be good, not to be; who’d then bequeath
Himself to discipline? who’d not esteem
Labour a crime? study self-murder deem?
Our noble youth now have pretence to be
Dunces securely, ignorant healthfully.
Rare linguist, whose worth speaks itself, whose praise,
Though not his own, all tongues besides do raise:
Than whom great Alexander may seem less,
Who conquered men, but not their languages.
In his mouth nations speak; his tongue might be
Interpreter to Greece, France, Italy.
His native soil was the four parts o’ the earth;
All Europe was too narrow for his birth.
A young apostle; and,—with reverence may
I speak ‘t,—inspired with gift of tongues, as they.
Nature gave him, a child, what men in vain
Oft strive, by art though furthered, to obtain.
His body was an orb, his sublime soul
Did move on virtue’s and on learning’s pole;
Whose regular motions better to our view,
Than Archimedes’ sphere, the heavens did shew.
Graces and virtues, languages and arts,
Beauty and learning, filled up all the parts.
Heaven’s gifts, which do like falling stars appear
Scattered in others, all, as in their sphere,
Were fixed, and conglobate in’s soul, and thence
Shone through his body, with sweet influence;
Letting their glories so on each limb fall,
The whole frame rendered was celestial.
Come, learned Ptolemy, and trial make,
If thou this hero’s altitude can’st take:
But that transcends thy skill; thrice happy all,
Could we but prove thus astronomical.
Lived Tycho now, struck with this ray which shone
More bright i’ the morn, than others beam at noon,
He’d take his astrolabe, and seek out here
What new star ’twas did gild our hemisphere.
Replenished then with such rare gifts as these,
Where was room left for such a foul disease?
The nation’s sin hath drawn that veil, which shrouds
Our day-spring in so sad benighting clouds.
Heaven would no longer trust its pledge, but thus
Recalled it,—rapt its Ganymede from us.
Was there no milder way but the small-pox,
The very filthiness of Pandora’s box?
So many spots, like næves, our Venus soil?
One jewel set off with so many a foil;
Blisters with pride swelled, which through’s flesh did sprout
Like rosebuds, stuck i’ the lily-skin about.
Each little pimple had a tear in it,
To wail the fault its rising did commit;
Which, rebel-like, with its own lord at strife,
Thus made an insurrection ‘gainst his life.
Or were these gems sent to adorn his skin,
The cabinet of a richer soul within?
No comet need foretell his change drew on,
Whose corpse might seem a constellation.
Oh had he died of old, how great a strife
Had been, who from his death should draw their life;
Who should, by one rich draught, become whate’er
Seneca, Cato, Numa, Cæsar, were!
Learned, virtuous, pious, great; and have by this
An universal metempsychosis.
Must all these aged sires in one funeral
Expire? all die in one so young, so small?
Who, had he lived his life out, his great fame
Had swoln ‘bove any Greek or Roman name.
But hasty winter, with one blast, hath brought
The hopes of autumn, summer, spring, to nought.
Thus fades the oak i’ the sprig, i’ the blade the corn;
Thus without young, this Phœnix dies, newborn.
Must then old three-legged grey-beards with their gout,
Catarrhs, rheums, aches, live three ages out?
Time’s offals, only fit for the hospital!
Or to hang an antiquary’s rooms withal!
Must drunkards, lechers, spent with sinning, live
With such helps as broths, possets, physic give?
None live, but such as should die? shall we meet
With none but ghostly fathers in the street?
Grief makes me rail, sorrow will force its way,
And showers of tears tempestuous sighs best lay.
The tongue may fail; but overflowing eyes
Will weep out lasting streams of elegies.
But thou, O virgin-widow, left alone,
Now thy beloved, heaven-ravished spouse is gone,
Whose skilful sire in vain strove to apply
Med’cines, when thy balm was no remedy;
With greater than Platonic love, O wed
His soul, though not his body, to thy bed:
Let that make thee a mother; bring thou forth
The ideas of his virtue, knowledge, worth;
Transcribe the original in new copies; give
Hastings o’ the better part: so shall he live
In’s nobler half; and the great grandsire be
Of an heroic divine progeny:
An issue which to eternity shall last,
Yet but the irradiations which he cast.
Erect no mausoleums; for his best
Monument is his spouse’s marble breast.

Roundelay

I.
Chloe found Amyntas lying,
All in tears, upon the plain,
Sighing to himself, and crying,
Wretched I, to love in vain!
Kiss me, dear, before my dying;
Kiss me once, and ease my pain.

II.
Sighing to himself, and crying,
Wretched I, to love in vain!
Ever scorning, and denying
To reward your faithful swain.
Kiss me, dear, before my dying;
Kiss me once, and ease my pain.

III.
Ever scorning, and denying
To reward your faithful swain.—
Chloe, laughing at his crying,
Told him, that he loved in vain.
Kiss me, dear, before my dying;
Kiss me once, and ease my pain.

IV.
Chloe, laughing at his crying,
Told him, that he loved in vain;
But, repenting, and complying,
When he kissed, she kissed again:
Kissed him up, before his dying;
Kissed him up, and eased his pain.

The Character Of A Good Parson. Imitated From Chaucer, And Enlarged

A parish-priest was of the pilgrim-train;
An awful, reverend, and religious man.
His eyes diffused a venerable grace,
And charity itself was in his face.
Rich was his soul, though his attire was poor,
(As God had clothed his own ambassador);
For such, on earth, his blessed Redeemer bore.
Of sixty years he seemed; and well might last
To sixty more, but that he lived too fast;
Refined himself to soul, to curb the sense;
And made almost a sin of abstinence.
Yet had his aspect nothing of severe,
But such a face as promised him sincere.
Nothing reserved or sullen was to see:
But sweet regards, and pleasing sanctity;
Mild was his accent, and his action free.
With eloquence innate his tongue was armed;
Though harsh the precept, yet the preacher charmed;
For, letting down the golden chain from high,
He drew his audience upward to the sky:
And oft, with holy hymns, he charmed their ears:
(A music more melodious than the spheres)
For David left him, when he went to rest,
His lyre; and after him he sung the best.
He bore his great commission in his look:
But sweetly tempered awe; and softened all he spoke.
He preached the joys of heaven, and pains of hell,
And warned the sinner with becoming zeal;
But on eternal mercy loved to dwell.
He taught the gospel rather than the law;
And forced himself to drive, but loved to draw.
For fear but freezes minds; but love, like heat,
Exhales the soul sublime, to seek her native seat.
To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard,
Wrapped in his crimes, against the storm prepared;
But, when the milder beams of mercy play,
He melts, and throws his cumbrous cloak away.
Lightning and thunder (heaven’s artillery)
As harbingers before the Almighty fly:
Those but proclaim his style, and disappear;
The stiller sound succeeds, and God is there.
The tithes, his parish freely paid, he took;
But never sued, or cursed with bell and book.
With patience bearing wrong, but offering none:
Since every man is free to lose his own.
The country churls, according to their kind,
(Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind,)
The less he sought his offerings, pinched the more,
And praised a priest contented to be poor.
Yet of his little he had some to spare,
To feed the tamished, and to clothe the bare:
For mortified he was to that degree,
A poorer than himself he would not see.
True priests, he said, and preachers of the word,
Were only stewards of their sovereign lord;
Nothing was theirs; but all the public store;
Intrusted riches to relieve the poor;
Who, should they steal, for want of his relief,
He judged himself accomplice with the thief.
Wide was his parish; not contracted close
In streets, but here and there a straggling house;
Yet still he was at hand, without request,
To serve the sick, to succour the distressed;
Tempting, on foot, alone, without affright,
The dangers of a dark tempestuous night.
All this the good old man performed alone,
Nor spared his pains; for curate he had none.
Nor durst he trust another with his care;
Nor rode himself to Paul’s, the public fair,
To chaffer for preferment with his gold,
Where bishoprics and sinecures are sold;
But duly watched his flock, by night and day;
And from the prowling wolf redeemed the prey,
And hungry sent the wily fox away.
The proud he tamed, the penitent he cheered:
Nor to rebuke the rich offender feared.
His preaching much, but more his practice wrought;
(A living sermon of the truths he taught);
For this by rules severe his life he squared:
That all might see the doctrine which they heard.
For priests, he said, are patterns for the rest;
(The gold of heaven, who bear the God impressed;
But when the precious coin is kept unclean.
The sovereign’s image is no longer seen.
If they be foul on whom the people trust,
Well may the baser brass contract a rust.
The prelate, for his holy life he prized;
The worldly pomp of prelacy despised.
His Saviour came not with a gaudy show,
Nor was his kingdom of the world below.
Patience in want, and poverty of mind,
These marks of church and churchmen he designed,
And living taught, and dying left behind.
The crown he wore was of the pointed thorn;
In purple he was crucified, not born.
They who contend for place and high degree,
Are not his sons, but those of Zebedee.
Not but he knew the signs of earthly power
Might well become Saint Peter’s successor;
The holy father holds a double reign,
The prince may keep his pomp, the fisher must be plain.
Such was the saint; who shone with every grace,
Reflecting, Moses like, his Maker’s face.
God saw his image lively was expressed;
And his own work, as in creation, blessed.
The tempter saw him too with envious eye,
And, as on Job, demanded leave to try.
He took the time when Richard was deposed,
And high and low with happy Harry closed.
This prince, though great in arms, the priest withstood:
Near though he was, but not the next of blood.
Had Richard unconstrained, resigned the throne,
A king can give no more than is his own;
The title stood entailed, had Richard had a son.
Conquest, an odious game, was laid aside,
Where all submitted, none the battle tried.
The senseless plea of right by Providence
Was, by a flattering priest, invented since;
And lasts no longer than the present sway,
But justifies the next who comes in play.
The people’s right remains; let those who dare
Dispute their power, when they the judges are.
He joined not in their choice, because he knew
Worse might, and often did from change ensue.
Much to himself he thought; but little spoke;
And, undeprived, his benefice forsook.
Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretched,
And like a primitive apostle preached.
Still cheerful; ever constant to his call;
By many followed; loved by most, admired by all.
With what he begged, his brethren he relieved;
And gave the charities himself received;
Gave, while he taught; and edified the more,
Because he showed, by proof, ’twas easy to be poor.
He went not, with the crowd, to see a shrine;
But fed us, by the way, with food divine.
In deference to his virtues, I forbear
To show you what the rest in orders were:
This brilliant is so spotless, and so bright,
He needs no foil, but shines by his own proper light.

Upon Young Mr. Rogers, Of Gloucestershire

Of gentle blood, his parents’ only treasure,
Their lasting sorrow, and their vanished pleasure,
Adorned with features, virtues, wit, and grace,
A large provision for so short a race:
More moderate gifts might have prolonged his date,
Too early fitted for a better state:
But, knowing heaven his home, to shun delay,
He leaped o’er age, and took the shortest way.

One Happy Moment

NO, no, poor suff’ring Heart, no Change endeavour,
Choose to sustain the smart, rather than leave her;
My ravish’d eyes behold such charms about her,
I can die with her, but not live without her:
One tender Sigh of hers to see me languish,
Will more than pay the price of my past anguish:
Beware, O cruel Fair, how you smile on me,
‘Twas a kind look of yours that has undone me.

Love has in store for me one happy minute,
And She will end my pain who did begin it;
Then no day void of bliss, or pleasure leaving,
Ages shall slide away without perceiving:
Cupid shall guard the door the more to please us,
And keep out Time and Death, when they would seize us:
Time and Death shall depart, and say in flying,
Love has found out a way to live, by dying.

Prologue To The Prophetess, By Beaumont And Fletcher. Revived By Dryden. Spoken By Mr. Betterton

What Nostradame, with all his art, can guess
The fate of our approaching Prophetess?
A play, which, like a prospective set right,
Presents our vast expenses close to sight;
But turn the tube, and there we sadly view
Our distant gains, and those uncertain too;
A sweeping tax, which on ourselves we raise,
And all, like you, in hopes of better days.
When will our losses warn us to be wise?
Our wealth decreases, and our charges rise.
Money, the sweet allurer of our hopes,
Ebbs out in oceans, and comes in by drops.
We raise new objects to provoke delight,
But you grow sated ere the second sight.
False men, even so you serve your mistresses;
They rise three stories in their towering dress;
And, after all, you love not long enough
To pay the rigging, ere you leave them off.
Never content with what you had before,
But true to change, and Englishmen all o’er.
Now honour calls you hence; and all your care
Is to provide the horrid pomp of war.
In plume and scarf, jack-boots, and Bilbo blade,
Your silver goes, that should support our trade.
Go, unkind heroes! leave our stage to mourn,
Till rich from vanquished rebels you return;
And the fat spoils of Teague in triumph draw,
His firkin butter, and his usquebaugh.
Go, conquerors of your male and female foes;
Men without hearts, and women without hose.
Each bring his love a Bogland captive home;
Such proper pages will long trains become;
With copper collars, and with brawny backs,
Quite to put down the fashion of our blacks.
Then shall the pious Muses pay their vows,
And furnish all their laurels for your brows;
Their tuneful voice shall raise for your delights;
We want not poets fit to sing your flights.
But you, bright beauties, for whose only sake
Those doughty knights such dangers undertake,
When they with happy gales are gone away,
With your propitious presence grace our play,
And with a sigh their empty seats survey;
Then think,—On that bare bench my servant sat!
I see him ogle still, and hear him chat;
Selling facetious bargains, and propounding
That witty recreation, called dumb-founding.
Their loss with patience we will try to bear,
And would do more, to see you often here;
That our dead stage, revived by your fair eyes,
Under a female regency may rise.

Prologue To Sophonisba; Spoken At Oxford, 1680

Thespis, the first professor of our art,
At country wakes, sung ballads from a cart.
To prove this true, if Latin be no trespass,
Dicitur et plaustris vexisse poemata Thespis.
But Æschylus, says Horace in some page,
Was the first mountebank that trod the stage:
Yet Athens never knew your learned sport,
Of tossing poets in a tennis-court.
But ’tis the talent of our English nation,
Still to be plotting some new reformation;
And few years hence, if anarchy goes on,
Jack Presbyter shall here erect his throne,
Knock out a tub with preaching once a day,
And every prayer be longer than a play.
Then all your heathen wits shall go to pot,
For disbelieving of a Popish Plot;
Nor should we scape the sentence, to depart,
Even in our first original, a cart;
Your poets shall be used like infidels,
And worst, the author of the Oxford bells;
No zealous brother there would want a stone,
To maul us cardinals, and pelt Pope Joan.
Religion, learning, wit, would be supprest,
Rags of the whore, and trappings of the beast;
Scot, Suarez, Tom of Aquin, must go down,
As chief supporters of the triple crown;
And Aristotle’s for destruction ripe;
Some say, he called the soul an organ-pipe,
Which, by some little help of derivation,
Shall then be proved a pipe of inspiration.

Song Of A Scholar And His Mistress, Who, Being Crossed By Their Friends, Fell Mad For One Another; And Now First Meet In Bedlam

The Lovers enter at opposite doors, each held by a keeper.

Phillis.
Look, look I see—­I see my love appear!
’Tis he—­’Tis he alone;
For, like him, there is none:
’Tis the dear, dear man, ’tis thee, dear.

Amyntas.
Hark! the winds war;
The foamy waves roar;
I see a ship afar:
Tossing and tossing, and making to the shore:
But what’s that I view,
So radiant of hue,
St. Hermo, St Hermo, that sits upon the sails?
Ah! No, no, no.
St. Hermo never, never shone so bright;’
‘Tis Phillis, only Phillis, can shoot so fair a light;
‘Tis Phillis, ’tis Phillis, that saves the ship alone,
For all the winds are hush’d, and the storm is overblown.

Phillis.
Let me go, let me run, let me fly to his arms.

Amyntas.
If all the fates combine,
And all the furies join,
I’ll force my way to Phillis, and break through the charm.

[Here they break from their keepers, run to each other, and embrace.]

Phillis.
Shall I marry the man I love?
And shall I conclude my pains?
Now bless’d be the powers above,
I feel the blood bound in my veins;
With a lively leap it began to move,
And the vapours leave my brains.

Amyntas.
Body join’d to body, and heart join’d to heart,
To make sure of the cure,
Go call the man in black, to mumble o’er his part.

Phillis.
But suppose he should stay—­

Amyntas.
At worst if he delay,
‘Tis a work must be done,
We’ll borrow but a day,
And the better, the sooner begun.

To The Lord Chancellor Hyde. Presented On New-Year’s Day, 1662

My Lord,
While flattering crowds officiously appear
To give themselves, not you, an happy year,
And by the greatness of their presents prove
How much they hope, but not how well they love,—
The muses, who your early courtship boast,
Though now your flames are with their beauty lost,
Yet watch their time, that, if you have forgot
They were your mistresses, the world may not.
Decayed by time and wars, they only prove
Their former beauty by your former love;
And now present, as ancient ladies do,
That courted long, at length are forced to woo:
For still they look on you with such kind eyes,
As those, that see the Church’s sovereign rise,
From their own order chose, in whose high state
They think themselves the second choice of fate.
When our great monarch into exile went,
Wit and religion suffered banishment.
Thus once, when Troy was wrapped in fire and smoke,
The helpless gods their burning shrines forsook;
They with the vanquished prince and party go,
And leave their temples empty to the foe.
At length the Muses stand, restored again
To that great charge which nature did ordain;
And their loved druids seem revived by fate,
While you dispense the laws, and guide the state.
The nation’s soul, our monarch, does dispense,
Through you, to us his vital influence:
You are the channel, where those spirits flow,
And work them higher as to us they go.
In open prospect nothing bounds our eye,
Until the earth seems joined unto the sky:
So in this hemisphere, our utmost view
Is only bounded by our king and you;
Our sight is limited where you are joined,
And beyond that no farther heaven can find.
So well your virtues do with his agree,
That though your orbs of different greatness be,
Yet both are for each other’s use disposed,
His to inclose, and yours to be inclosed:
Nor could another in your room have been,
Except an emptiness had come between.
Well may he, then, to you his cares impart,
And share his burden where he shares his heart.
In you his sleep still wakes; his pleasures find
Their share of business in your labouring mind.
So, when the weary sun his place resigns,
He leaves his light, and by reflection shines.
Justice, that sits and frowns where public laws
Exclude soft mercy from a private cause,
In your tribunal most herself does please;
There only smiles because she lives at ease;
And, like young David, finds her strength the more,
When disencumbered from those arms she wore.
Heaven would your royal master should exceed
Most in that virtue, which we most did need;
And his mild father (who too late did find
All mercy vain but what with power was joined)
His fatal goodness left to fitter times,
Not to increase, but to absolve our crimes:
But when the heir of this vast treasure knew
How large a legacy was left to you,
(Too great for any subject to retain)
He wisely tied it to the crown again;
Yet, passing through your hands it gathers more,
As streams, through mines, bear tincture of their ore.
While emp’ric politicians use deceit,
Hide what they give, and cure but by a cheat;
You boldly show that skill which they pretend,
And work by means as noble as your end;
Which should you veil, we might unwind the clue,
As men do nature, till we came to you.
And, as the Indies were not found before
Those rich perfumes, which, from the happy shore,
The winds upon their balmy wings conveyed,
Whose guilty sweetness first their world betrayed;
So, by your counsels, we are brought to view
A rich and undiscovered world in you.
By you our monarch does that fame assure,
Which kings must have, or cannot live secure:
For prosperous princes gain their subjects’ heart,
Who love that praise in which themselves have part.
By you he fits those subjects to obey,
As heaven’s eternal monarch does convey
His power unseen, and man, to his designs,
By his bright ministers, the stars, inclines.
Our setting sun, from his declining seat,
Shot beams of kindness on you, not of heat;
And, when his love was bounded in a few
That were unhappy, that they might be true,
Made you the favourite of his last sad times,
That is, a sufferer in his subjects’ crimes.
Thus, those first favours you received, were sent,
Like heaven’s rewards, in earthly punishment:
Yet fortune, conscious of your destiny,
E’en then took care to lay you softly by,
And wrapped your fate among her precious things,
Kept fresh to be unfolded with your king’s.
Shown all at once, you dazzled so our eyes,
As new-born Pallas did the gods surprise,
When, springing forth from Jove’s new-closing wound,
She struck the warlike spear into the ground;
Which sprouting leaves did suddenly inclose,
And peaceful olives shaded as they rose.
How strangely active are the arts of peace,
Whose restless motions less than war’s do cease!
Peace is not freed from labour, but from noise;
And war more force, but not more pains employs.
Such is the mighty swiftness of your mind,
That, like the earth, it leaves our sense behind,
While you so smoothly turn and roll our sphere,
That rapid motion does but rest appear.
For, as in nature’s swiftness, with the throng
Of flying orbs while ours is borne along,
All seems at rest to the deluded eye,
Moved by the soul of the same harmony;
So, carried on by your unwearied care,
We rest in peace, and yet in motion share.
Let envy, then, those crimes within you see,
From which the happy never must be free;
(Envy, that does with misery reside,
The joy and the revenge of ruined pride.)
Think it not hard, if, at so cheap a rate,
You can secure the constancy of fate,
Whose kindness sent what does their malice seem,
By lesser ills the greater to redeem;
Nor can we this weak shower a tempest call,
But drops of heat that in the sunshine fall.
You have already wearied Fortune so,
She cannot farther be your friend or foe;
But sits all breathless, and admires to feel
A fate so weighty, that it stops her wheel.
In all things else above our humble fate,
Your equal mind yet swells not into state,
But, like some mountain in those happy isles,
Where in perpetual spring young nature smiles,
Your greatness shows; no horror to affright,
But trees for shade, and flowers to court the sight:
Sometimes the hill submits itself a while
In small descents, which do its height beguile;
And sometimes mounts, but so as billows play,
Whose rise not hinders, but makes short our way.
Your brow, which does no fear of thunder know,
Sees rolling tempests vainly beat below;
And, like Olympus’ top, the impression wears
Of love and friendship writ in former years.
Yet unimpaired with labours, or with time,
Your age but seems to a new youth to climb.
Thus heavenly bodies do our time beget,
And measure change, but share no part of it.
And still it shall without a weight increase,
Like this new-year, whose motions never cease:
For, since the glorious course you have begun
Is led by Charles, as that is by the sun,
It must both weightless and immortal prove,
Because the centre of it is above.

Prologue Spoken At The Opening Of The New House, March 26, 1674

A plain-built house, after so long a stay,
Will send you half unsatisfied away;
When, fallen from your expected pomp, you find
A bare convenience only is designed.
You, who each day can theatres behold,
Like Nero’s palace, shining all with gold,
Our mean ungilded stage will scorn, we fear,
And, for the homely room, disdain the cheer.
Yet now cheap druggets to a mode are grown,
And a plain suit, since we can make but one,
Is better than to be by tarnished gawdry known.
They, who are by your favours wealthy made,
With mighty sums may carry on the trade;
We, broken bankers, half destroyed by fire,
With our small stock to humble roofs retire;
Pity our loss, while you their pomp admire.
For fame and honour we no longer strive;
We yield in both, and only beg—to live;
Unable to support their vast expense,
Who build and treat with such magnificence,
That, like the ambitious monarchs of the age,
They give the law to our provincial stage.
Great neighbours enviously promote excess,
While they impose their splendour on the less;
But only fools, and they of vast estate,
The extremity of modes will imitate,
The dangling knee-fringe, and the bib-cravat.
Yet if some pride with want may be allowed,
We in our plainness may be justly proud;
Our Royal Master willed it should be so;
Whate ‘er he’s pleased to own, can need no show:
That sacred name gives ornament and grace,
And, like his stamp, makes basest metal pass.
‘Twere folly now a stately pile to raise,
To build a playhouse while you throw down plays;
While scenes, machines, and empty operas reign,
And for the pencil you the pen disdain;
While troops of famished Frenchmen hither drive,
And laugh at those upon whose alms they live:
Old English authors vanish, and give place
To these new conquerors of the Norman race.
More tamely than your fathers you submit;
You’re now grown vassals to them in your wit.
Mark, when they play, how our fine fops advance
The mighty merits of their men of France,
Keep time, cry Ben! and humour the cadence.
Well, please yourselves; but sure ’tis understood,
That French machines have ne’er done England good.
I would not prophesy our house’s fate;
But while vain shows and scenes you overrate,
‘Tis to be feared—
That, as a fire the former house o’erthrew,
Machines and tempests will destroy the new.

Prologue To Albumazar

To say this comedy pleased long ago,
Is not enough to make it pass you now.
Yet, gentlemen, your ancestors had wit,
When few men censured, and when fewer writ.
And Jonson, of those few the best, chose this,
As the best model of his master-piece:
Subtle was got by our Albumazar,
That Alchymist by this Astrologer;
Here he was fashioned, and we may suppose,
He liked the fashion well, who wore the clothes.
But Ben made nobly his what he did mould;
What was another’s lead, becomes his gold:
Like an unrighteous conqueror he reigns,
Yet rules that well which he unjustly gains.
But this our age such authors does afford,
As make whole plays, and yet scarce write one word;
Who, in this anarchy of wit, rob all,
And what’s their plunder, their possession call;
Who, like bold padders, scorn by night to prey,
But rob by sunshine, in the face of day:
Nay, scarce the common ceremony use
Of, “Stand, Sir, and deliver up your Muse;”
But knock the poet down, and, with a grace,
Mount Pegasus before the owner’s face.
Faith, if you have such country Toms abroad,
‘Tis time for all true men to leave that road.
Yet it were modest, could it but be said,
They strip the living, but these rob the dead;
Dare with the mummies of the Muses play,
And make love to them the Egyptian way;
Or, as a rhyming author would have said,
Join the dead living to the living dead.
Such men in poetry may claim some part,
They have the licence, though they want the art;
And might, where theft was praised, for laureats stand,
Poets, not of the head, but of the hand.
They make the benefits of others’ studying,
Much like the meals of politic Jack-Pudding,
Whose dish to challenge no man has the courage;
‘Tis all his own, when once he has spit i’the porridge.
But, gentlemen, you’re all concerned in this;
You are in fault for what they do amiss;
For they their thefts still undiscovered think,
And durst not steal, unless you please to wink.
Perhaps, you may award by your decree,
They should refund,—but that can never be;
For, should you letters of reprisal seal,
These men write that which no man else would steal.

The Medal

Of all our antic sights and pageantry
Which English idiots run in crowds to see,
The Polish Medal bears the prize alone;
A monster, more the favourite of the town
Than either fairs or theatres have shown.
Never did art so well with nature strive,
Nor ever idol seemed so much alive;
So like the man, so golden to the sight,
So base within, so counterfeit and light.
One side is filled with title and with face;
And, lest the king should want a regal place,
On the reverse a tower the town surveys,
O’er which our mounting sun his beams displays.
The word, pronounced aloud by shrieval voice,
Loetamur, which in Polish is Rejoice,
The day, month, year, to the great act are joined,
And a new canting holiday designed.
Five days he sate for every cast and look,
Four more days than God to finish Adam took.
But who can tell what essence angels are
Or how long Heaven was making Lucifer?
Oh, could the style that copied every grace
And ploughed such furrows for an eunuch face,
Could it have formed his ever-changing will,
The various piece had tired the graver’s skill!
A martial hero first, with early care
Blown, like a pigmy by the winds, to war;
A beardless chief, a rebel ere a man,
So young his hatred to his Prince began.
Next this, (how wildly will ambition steer!)
A vermin wriggling in the usurper’s ear,
Bartering his venal wit for sums of gold,
He cast himself into the saint-like mould;
Groaned, sighed, and prayed, while godliness was gain,
The loudest bag-pipe of the squeaking train.
But, as ’tis hard to cheat a juggler’s eyes,
His open lewdness he could ne’er disguise.
There split the saint; for hypocritic zeal
Allows no sins but those it can conceal.
Whoring to scandal gives too large a scope;
Saints must not trade, but they may interlope.
The ungodly principle was all the same;
But a gross cheat betrays his partners’ game.
Besides, their pace was formal, grave, and slack;
His nimble wit outran the heavy pack.
Yet still he found hs fortune at a stay,
Whole droves of blockheads choking up his way;
They took, but not rewarded, his advice;
Villain and wit exact a double price.
Power was his aim; but thrown from that pretence,
The wretch turned loyal in his own defence,
And malice reconciled him to his Prince.
Him in the anguish of his soul he served,
Rewarded faster still than he deserved.
Behold him now exalted into trust,
His counsels oft convenient, seldom just;
Even in the most sincere advice he gave
He had a grudging still to be a knave.
The frauds he learnt in his fanatic years
Made him uneasy in his lawful gears.
At best, as little honest as he could,
And, like white witches, mischievously good.
To his first bias longingly he leans
And rather would be great by wicked means.
Thus framed for ill, he loosed our triple hold,
(Advice unsafe, precipitous, and bold.)
From hence those tears, that Ilium was our woe:
Who helps a powerful friend forearms a foe.
What wonder if the waves prevail so far,
When he cut down the banks that made the bar?
Seas follow but their nature to invade;
But he by art our native strength betrayed.
So Samson to his foe his force confest,
And to be shorn lay slumbering on her breast.
But when this fatal counsel, found too late,
Exposed its author to the public hate,
When his just sovereign by no impious way
Could be seduced to arbitrary sway,
Forsaken of that hope, he shifts his sail,
Drives down the current with the popular gale,
And shows the fiend confessed without a veil.
He preaches to the crowd that power is lent,
But not conveyed to kingly government,
That claims successive bear no binding force,
That coronation oaths are things of course;
Maintains the multitude can never err,
And sets the people in the papal chair.
The reason’s obvious, interest never lies;
The most have still their interest in their eyes,
The power is always theirs, and power is ever wise.
Almighty crowd! thou shortenest all dispute.
Power is thy essence, wit thy attribute!
Nor faith nor reason make thee at a stay,
Thou leapst o’er all eternal truths in thy Pindaric way!
Athens, no doubt, did righteously decide,
When Phocion and when Socrates were tried;
As righteously they did those dooms repent;
Still they were wise, whatever way they went.
Crowds err not, though to both extremes they run;
To kill the father and recall the son.
Some think the fools were most, as times went then,
But now the world’s o’erstocked with prudent men.
The common cry is even religion’s test;
The Turk’s is at Constantinople best,
Idols in India, Popery in Rome,
And our own worship is only true at home,
And true but for the time; ’tis hard to know
How long we please it shall continue so;
This side to-day, and that to-morrow burns;
So all are God Almighties in their turns.
A tempting doctrine, plausible and new;
What fools our fathers were, if this be true!
Who, to destroy the seeds of civil war,
Inherent right in monarchs did declare;
And, that a lawful power might never cease,
Secured succession to secure our peace.
Thus property and sovereign sway at last
In equal balances were justly cast;
But this new Jehu spurs the hot-mounted horse,
Instructs the beast to know his native force,
To take the bit between his teeth and fly
To the next headlong steep of anarchy.
Too happy Engand, if our good we knew,
Would we possess the freedom we pursue!
The lavish government can give no more;
Yet we repine, and plenty makes us poor.
God tried us once; our rebel fathers fought;
He glutted them with all the power they sought,
Till, mastered by their own usurping brave,
The free-born subject sunk into a slave.
We loathe our manna, and we long for quails;
Ah! what is man, when his own wish prevails!
How rash, how swift to plunge himself in ill,
Proud of his power and boundless in his will!
That kings can do no wrong we must believe;
None can they do, and must they all receive?
Help. Heaven, or sadly we shall see an hour
When neither wrong nor right are in their power!
Already they have lost their best defence,
The benefit of laws which they dispense.
No justice to their righteous cause allowed,
But baffled by an arbitrary crowd;
And medals graved, their conquest to record,
The stamp and coin of their adopted lord.

The man who laughed but once, to see an ass
Mumbling to make the cross-grained thistles pass,
Might laugh again to see a jury chaw
The prickles of unpalatable law.
The witnesses that, leech-like lived on blood,
Sucking for them were med’cinally good;
But when they fastened on their festered sore,
Then justice and religion they forswore,
Thus men are raised by factions and decried,
And rogue and saint distinguished by their side;
They rack even Scripture to confess their cause
And plead a call to preach in spite of laws.
But that’s no news to the poor injured page,
It has been used as ill in every age,
And is constrained with patience all to take,
For what defence can Greek and Hebrew make?
Happy who can this talking trumpet seize,
They make it speak whatever sense they please!
‘Twas framed at first our oracle to inquire;
But since our sects in prophecy grow higher,
The text inspires not them, but they the text inspire.

London, thou great emporium of our isle,
O thou too bounteous, thou too fruitful Nile!
How shall I praise or curse to thy desert,
Or separate thy sound from thy corrupted part?
I called thee Nile; the parallel will stand:
Thy tides of wealth o’erflow the fattened land;
Yet monsters from thy large increase we find
Engendered on the slime thou leavest behind.
Sedition has not wholly seized on thee,
Thy nobler parts are from infection free.
Of Israel’s tribes thou hast a numerous band,
But still the Canaanite is in the land.
Thy military chiefs are brave and true,
Nor are thy disenchanted burghers few.
The head is loyal which thy heart commands,
But what’s a head with two such gouty hands?
The wise and wealthy love the surest way
And are content to thrive and to obey.
But wisdom is to sloth too great a slave;
None are so busy as the fool and knave.
Those let me curse; what vengeance will they urge,
Whose ordures neither plague nor fire can purge,
Nor sharp experience can to duty bring
Nor angry Heaven nor a forgiving king!
In gospel-phrase their chapmen they betray;
Their shops are dens, the buyer is their prey;
The knack of trades is living on the spoil;
They boast e’en when each other they beguile.
Customs to steal is such a trivial thing
That ’tis their charter to defraud their King.
All hands unite of every jarring sect;
They cheat the country first, and then infect.
They for God’s cause their monarchs dare dethrone,
And they’ll be sure to make His cause their own.
Whether the plotting Jesuit laid the plan
Of murdering kings, or the French Puritan,
Our sacrilegious sects their guides outgo
And kings and kingly power would murder too.

What means their traitorous combination less,
Too plain to evade, too shameful to confess?
But treason is not owned when ’tis descried;
Successful crimes alone are justified.
The men who no consiracy would find,
Who doubts but, had it taken, they had joined?
Joined in a mutual covenant of defence,
At first without, at last against their Prince?
If sovereign right by sovereign power they scan,
The same bold maxim holds in God and man:
God were not safe; his thunder could they shun,
He should be forced to crown another son.
Thus, when the heir was from the vineyard thrown,
The rich possession was the murderers’ own.
In vain to sophistry they have recourse;
By proving theirs no plot they prove ’tis worse,
Unmasked rebellion, and audiacious force,
Which, though not actual, yet all eyes may see
‘Tis working, in the immediate power to be;
For from pretended grievances they rise
First to dislike and after to dispise;
Then, Cyclop-like, in human flesh to deal,
Chop up a minister at every meal;
Perhaps not wholly to melt down the king,
But clip his regal rights within the ring;
From thence to asssume the power of peace and war
And ease him by degrees of public care.
Yet, to consult his dignity and fame,
He should have leave to exercise the name,
And hold the cards while Commons played the game.
For what can power give more than food and drink,
To live at ease and not be bound to think?
These are the cooler methods of their crime,
But their hot zealots think ’tis loss of time;
On utmost bounds of loyalty they stand,
And grin and whet like a Croatian band
That waits impatient for the last command:
Thus outlaws open villainy maintain;
They steal not, but in squadrons scour the plain;
And if their power the passengers subdue,
The most most have right, the wrong is in the few.
Such impious axioms foolishly they show,
For in some soils Republics will not grow:
Our temperate Isle will no extremes sustain
Of popular sway or arbitrary reign:
But slides between them both into the best,
Secure in freedom, in a monarch blest.
And, though the climate, vexed with various winds,
Works through our yielding bodies on our minds,
The wholesome tempest purges what it breeds
To recommend the calmness that succeeds.

But thou, the pander of the people’s hearts,
(O crooked soul and serpentine in arts!)…
What curses on thy blasted name will fall,
Which age to age their legacy shall call,
For all must curse the woes that must descend on all!
Religion thou hast none: thy mercury
Has passed through every sect, or theirs through thee.
But what thou givest, that venom still remains,
And the poxed nation feels thee in their brains.
What else inspires the tongues and swells the breasts
Of all thy bellowing renegado priests,
That preach up thee for God, dispense thy laws,
And with thy stum ferment their fainting cause,
Fresh fumes of madness raise, and toil and sweat,
To make the formidable cripple great?
Yet should thy crimes succeed, should lawless power
Compass those ends thy greedy hopes devour,
Thy canting friends thy mortal foes would be,
Thy god and theirs will never long agree;
For thine, if thou hast any, must be one
That lets the world and human kind alone;
A jolly god that passes hours too well
To promise Heaven or threaten us with Hell,
That unconcerned can at rebellion sit
And wink at crimes he did himself commit.
A tyrant theirs; the heaven their priesthood paints
A conventicle of gloomy sullen saints;
A heaven, like Bedlam, slovenly and sad,
Foredoomed for souls with false religion mad.

Without a vision poets can foreshow
What all but fools by common sense may know:
If true succession from our Isle should fail,
And crowds profane with impious arms prevail,
Not thou nor those thy factious arts engage
Shall reap that harvest of rebellious rage,
With which thou flatterest thy decrepit age.
The swelling poison of the several sects,
Which, wanting vent, the nation’s health infects,
Shall burst its bag; and fighting out their way,
The various venoms on each other prey.
The Presbyter, puffed up with spiritual pride,
Shall on the necks of the lewd nobles ride,
His brethren damn, the civil power defy,
And parcel out republic prelacy.
But short shall be his reign; his rigid yoke
And tyrant power will puny sects provoke,
And frogs, and toads, and all the tadpole train
Will croak to Heaven for help from this devouring crane.
The cut-throat sword and clamorous gown shall jar
In sharing their ill-gotten spoils of war;
Chiefs shall be grudged the part which they pretend;
Lords envy lords, and friends with every friend
About their impious merit shall contend.
The surly Commons shall respect deny
And justle peerage out with property.
Their General either shall his trust betray
And force the crowd to arbitrary sway,
Or they, suspecting his ambitious aim,
In hate of kings shall cast anew the frame
And thrust out Collatine that bore their name.

Thus inborn broils the factions would engage,
Or wars of exiled heirs, or foreign rage,
Till halting vengeance overtook our age,
And our wild labours, wearied into rest,
Reclined us on a rightful monarch’s breast.

“Pudet hoec opprobria vobis
Et dici potuisse et non potuisse refelli.”

Prologue For The Women, When They Acted At The Old Theatre, Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields

Were none of you, gallants, e’er driven so hard,
As when the poor kind soul was under guard,
And could not do ‘t at home, in some by-street
To take a lodging, and in private meet?
Such is our case; we can’t appoint our house,
The lovers’ old and wonted rendezvous,
But hither to this trusty nook remove;
The worse the lodging is, the more the love.
For much good pastime, many a dear sweet hug,
Is stolen in garrets, on the humble rug.
Here’s good accommodation in the pit;
The grave demurely in the midst may sit,
And so the hot Burgundian on the side,
Ply vizard mask, and o’er the benches stride:
Here are convenient upper boxes too,
For those that make the most triumphant show;
All, that keep coaches, must not sit below.
There, gallants, you betwixt the acts retire,
And, at dull plays, have something to admire:
We, who look up, can your addresses mark,
And see the creatures coupled in the ark:
So we expect the lovers, braves, and wits;
The gaudy house with scenes will serve for cits.

London After The Great Fire, 1666

Methinks already from this chymic flame
I see a city of more precious mould,
Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
With silver paved and all divine with gold.

Already, labouring with a mighty fate,
She shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow,
And seems to have renewed her charter’s date,
Which Heaven will to the death of time allow.

More great than human now and more August,
New deified she from her fires does rise:
Hew widening streets on new foundations trust,
And, opening, into larger parts she flies.

Before, she like some shepherdess did show
Who sat to bathe her by a river’s side,
Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.

Now like a maiden queen she will behold
From her high turrets hourly suitors come;
The East with incense and the West with gold
Will stand like suppliants to receive her doom.

The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,
Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train,
And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
With longing eyes to meet her face again.

The wealthy Tagus and the wealthier Rhine
The glory of their towns no more shall boast,
And Seine, that would with Belgian rivers join,
Shall find her lustre stained and traffic lost.

The venturous merchant who designed more far
And touches on our hospitable shore,
Charmed with the splendour of this northern star,
Shall here unlade him and depart no more.

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